44 Years of 3-Minute Poems

The kamp konservatism of the Kinks


Ray Davies: Not Like Everybody Else, by Thomas M. Kitts, New York: Routledge, 302 pages, $19.95

When the Kinks recorded The Village Green Preservation Society in 1968, the north London quartet was not trying to create a commercial failure. Quite the opposite. But surely they must have realized that the year of the street riot was not a propitious time to greet the rock world with couplets like "We are the Office Block Persecution Affinity/God save little shops, china cups, and virginity." They sang those lines with genuine enthusiasm, even if it's a sure bet that no one in the band was a virgin at the time.

The song—the sprightly, catchy title track of a nearly perfect album—had been composed by Ray Davies, one of rock's greatest lyricists. It was not a tribute to virginity so much as a tribute to the idea of virginity, and of everything else praised in this romantic English anthem: village greens, the George Cross, strawberry jam, draught beer, "the old ways." The record recalls a more rooted existence, but its list of artifacts worth saving draws on pop culture as much as pastoral life: "We are the Sherlock Holmes English Speaking Vernacular/Help save Fu Manchu, Moriarty, and Dracula." There is even a shout-out to Donald Duck, who's about as English as Donald Trump.

The album sold less than 500,000 copies. Four years earlier, the Kinks had been one of the most popular bands in the West, climbing the American and British charts with two brash, loud rock songs, "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night." Indeed, as Thomas M. Kitts points out in this intelligent study, The Kinks "were ranked with the Rolling Stones, both only second to the Beatles." There was an enormous stylistic gap between the quiet nostalgia of Village Green and the Kinks' earlier, noisier explosions of adolescent lust and frustration—and that contrast only begins to hint at the band's range. In their first decade as a recording unit, the Kinks experimented with trad jazz, musical theater, Indian raga, and New Orleans funk. Above all, they delved into the English music-hall tradition, with its vaudevillian showmanship, singalong melodies, working-class sympathies, and epicene moments of burlesque.

The constant thread was a willful refusal to follow pop fashions. The Kinks were happy to set trends: The early singles paved the way for punk rock, heavy metal, and grunge, while the band's later, quieter character studies ("Rosie Won't You Please Come Home," "Two Sisters," "Autumn Almanac") and satires of modern British life ("A Well Respected Man," "Dedicated Follower of Fashion," "Sunny Afternoon") would have a strong impact on other English artists. Yet even when no one was imitating them, the Kinks kept doing their own thing, recording well-crafted but poor-selling LPs like Village Green and, in 1971, Muswell Hillbillies, a jazz- and country-flavored concept album about the injustice of urban renewal programs. By the mid-'70s, the band had evolved into a touring troupe that staged Brechtian rock musicals. There were plenty of rock operas in that era, but there was a big gulf between the bombast of Tommy or Jesus Christ, Superstar and Kinksian efforts like Preservation, a witty if tangled three-disc story about a socialist revolution that becomes a puritanical, totalitarian nightmare.

The group took another turn in 1976, when they signed with a new label, Arista, and tried to work within the genres that happened to be popular at the moment, from new wave to metallic hard rock. Davies even dabbled in disco. He was still drawn to the theater, but he generally expressed this interest outside the Kinks (co-writing the musicals Chorus Girls and 80 Days) or channeled it into directing music videos. The band became enormously popular in America again, though not in the UK. For the most part, the Kinks' new records succeeded artistically as well as commercially, at least until they left Arista for MCA in the mid-'80s. In the '90s they finally disbanded. Ray and his brother Dave—the group's lead guitarist and an important architect of its sound—have since enjoyed low-profile but impressive solo careers.

Muswell Hillbillies is my favorite Kinks record, but The Village Green Preservation Society stands out for being so tenaciously removed from its time. Inspired by Dylan Thomas's play Under Milk Wood, the album describes the colorful inhabitants of an unnamed English town. The title track, that toe-tapping ode to Donald Duck and virgins, presents itself as a love letter to the past, but the singer knew very well that the place he was romanticizing wasn't lost so much as imaginary. Kitts quotes Davies' description of the village as "a fantasy world that I can retreat to. … It was my own Wizard of Oz land."

Davies' other retreat was a very real place: Muswell Hill, the London suburb where he was raised. The heart of the young Davies' world was the front room of his family home. "After the pubs closed at 11:00 pm," Kitts writes, Davies' father "would invite his drinking cronies to join his extended family and children's friends for an after-hours party in what would be the family's overcrowded front room, which, in those largely pre-television days, held the family's old upright piano, the most important piece of furniture in the Davies's home, and a 78 r.p.m. wind-up gramophone." The parties featured rowdy performances of pop hits and music-hall standards, with Davies's father doing a drunken impersonation of Cab Calloway. As Kitts notes, "The influence of these parties on the Kinks, particularly the campy Kinks of the early to mid-1970s, is remarkable. Whether consciously or not, it seemed as if Ray was trying to recreate the Saturday night parties of his family's home—complete with chaos, beer, and singalongs."

In theory, there is a wide gap between the camp aesthetic, with its love of artifice and role-playing, and the traditionalist outlook, with its focus on the permanent things. Yet the Kinks at their campiest were the Kinks at their most rooted. Susan Sontag famously wrote that the camp worldview "sees everything in quotation marks." Davies does too: "Everybody's a dreamer, and everybody's a star/And everybody's in showbiz, it doesn't matter who you are," he sang in "Celluloid Heroes." But usually he's yelling for someone to tear those quotation marks down, even as he suspects that life as a quotation might have its own numb pleasures ("I wish my life was a nonstop Hollywood movie show/A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes/Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain/And celluloid heroes never really die").

Davies—one of the few pop figures with a strong cult following among both gays and conservatives—does not simply combine camp with traditionalism. He is at once the alienated individualist and the communitarian populist, a man who praises both the misfit and the ordinary rituals that everybody enjoys ("I like my football on a Saturday/Roast beef on Sundays, all right/I go to Blackpool for my holidays/Sit in the open sunlight"). Village Green, like Under Milk Wood, wove those strands together by populating Davies's village with eccentrics; by celebrating their individuality, he celebrated their small community as well. Muswell Hillbillies is a darker album, but it takes the same approach, mixing songs about the bizarre characters on Muswell Hill with angry jeremiads at the authorities that bulldoze homes and neighborhoods.

Politically, this outlook translates into an intense distrust both for large corporations and for the state. Like many rock stars, Davies has written songs attacking venal Big Business. Unlike most rock stars, he has written songs attacking domestic government bureaucracies ("I was born in a welfare state/Ruled by bureaucracy/Controlled by civil servants/And people dressed in gray"). And he may, depending on how you interpret Neil Young's "Union Man," be the only rocker ever to devote a song to attacking unions. Davies doesn't dislike organized labor per se, but he had a bad experience with a printers' union in his teens, and in the mid-'60s his band was barred from touring America for several years because the musicians' union refused to issue the required work permits. He retaliated with 1970's "Get Back in Line": "But that union man's got such a hold on me/He's the man who decides if I live or I die, if I starve or I eat/Then he walks up to me and the sun begins to shine/And he walks right back and I know that I've got to get back in the line."

There are several books about the Kinks already, but these are mostly written by rock journalists. Kitts, by contrast, is a professor of literature at St. John's University in New York. He gives Davies's lyrics serious scrutiny without neglecting to consider the ways they are amplified, undercut, or elaborated by the music. He also looks beyond Davies's recorded output to consider the singer's experiments in film, fiction, and theater. I have my occasional disagreements with his conclusions, but that is inevitable. The depth and breadth of the study are worlds away from the typical pop-star biography and more in line with the other academic work Routledge publishes.

That said, one strength of Davies' best work is that it is pop, even when it's resolutely ignoring the rest of the pop universe. "The Village Green Preservation Society" may be the most un-1968 song of 1968. It is also one of the most infectious recordings of the last 40 years. Davies could have been a full-time filmmaker, poet, or novelist; we should be grateful that he chose to do most of his work within the confines of the three-minute pop song instead.

Managing Editor Jesse Walker is the author of Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America (NYU Press). This article originally appeared in The American Conservative.

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  1. Davies-one of the few pop figures with a strong cult following among both gays and conservatives

    Like the bastard offspring of Judy Garland and
    SSgt Barry Sadler.

  2. Great album, love almost every song, except Phenomenal Cat. Just can’t stand that one for some reason.

    It’s the poppiest (word?) album I own, but there’s something about it. Very surprised to see something about it at h&R.

  3. Jesse, that was the most long-winded load of bullshit* I’ve seen in a while. Good job. I assume they pay you by the word.

    * just kidding, you know I like your stuff

  4. Ska, I’m with you on Phenomenal Cat… I love Village Green otherwise. Of course, there isn’t a song on there that can top Waterloo Sunset.

  5. I think it’s funny that while the anti-war and hippie movement completely burned it’s self out within the course of 5 years, for some reason Lawrence Welk, Stan Keaton, and Jim Nabors managed to stay somewhat relevant throughout the radical times and well beyond.

    I think the lesson here is never underestimate the buying power of cranky old people.

  6. The record recalls a more rooted existence…….artifacts worth saving draws on pop culture….

    Come Dancin’, my sister always did.

    Speaking of hippies, my boy, while shooting hoops, asked me just yesterday if I was alive when there were hippies.

  7. Oh, and don’t forget Gallon of Gas.

    Jesse: Five bucks for your thoughts……….


  8. NM,

    I woulda thought 1969 to be the most 1969 song for 1969. Ig should have written a “1973” song for RAW POWER.

  9. SIV,

    I woulda thought 1969 to be the most 1969 song for 1969.

    Conventional thinking like that is so un-rock-n-roll.

    If it were true, then Iggy would have made it into the rock-n-roll hall of fame before Madonna & Mellencamp.


  10. Speaking of RAW POWER

    “Fuck Authority” seems like the most 1984 or 1984 songs

  11. er “of 1984…”

  12. Nada by Olho Seco…

    I loved this song in ’84.

  13. TWC, Thanks for reminding me of a truly wistful and wonderful song.
    Ray Davies love of simmpler times –

    In the hallway, in anticipation,
    He didnt know the night would end up in frustration.
    He’d end up blowing all his wages for the week
    All for a cuddle and a peck on the cheek.

    MC5 and the Stooges comments? Just more evidence that Detroit rock rules!

  14. JsubD,

    Does that mean you are a White Stripes fan?

  15. One of the best rock albums in history, sadly unappreciated by the larger mass of rock fans. It is without qualification one of the albums that you must hear before the Grim Reaper cometh for you.

  16. I am a WS fan for sure. Saw them at Keyspan Park in Brooklyn – amazing show, couldn’t believe how much sound 2 people could make.

    TV Eye always seemed like a Stooges song with that Orwellian feel to it.

  17. White Stripes … one of the few rock outfits that matter anymore.

  18. One listen to “Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground” and you should be convinced.

  19. convinced that you’re loony.

  20. The Kinks, like The Beatles, were heavily influenced by England’s music hall tradition. Hey, the Brill Building was in Tin Pan Alley.

    Oh demon alcohol,
    Sad memories I can’t recall,
    Who thought I would say,
    Damn it all and blow it all,
    Oh demon alcohol,
    Memories I can’t recall,
    Who thought I would fall a slave to demon alcohol.


  21. Does that mean you are a White Stripes fan?

    Yep. For such a craptastic city, the Detroit music scene takes a back seat to no city, styate or region. Dunno why that is, but it truly is.

  22. JsubD,

    I do believe that Detroit needs to start their own R&R Hall of Fame given that neither The Stooges, nor the MC5, nor even Ted Nugent* are inductees in the one in Cleveland.

    I don’t actually think Ted is in the same league, but he had a great song or two and sold a lot more records.

  23. What libertarian wouldn’t like this Ray Davies snippet?

    ?Woke up this morning, what did i see
    A big black cloud hanging over me
    I switched on the radio and nearly dropped dead
    The news was so bad that i fell out of bed
    There was a gas strike, oil strike, lorry strike, bread strike
    Got to be a superman to survive
    Gas bills, rent bills, tax bills, phone bills
    I’m such a wreck but i’m staying alive?

  24. I saw the White Stripes in concert few years ago worst concert i’ve ever been to.

  25. What libertarian wouldn’t like this Ray Davies snippet?

    Or this one?

    The tax man’s taken all my dough,
    And left me in my stately home,
    Lazing on a sunny afternoon.
    And I can’t even sail my yacht,
    He’s taken everything Ive got,
    All I’ve gots this sunny afternoon.

    And it’s even got something for the chronic alcoholic:

    My girlfriend’s run off with my car,
    And gone back to her ma and pa,
    Telling tales of drunkenness and cruelty.
    Now I’m sitting here,
    Sipping at my ice cold beer,
    Lazing on a sunny afternoon.

  26. Neu, When the decision to locate the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland (Fuckin’ Cleveland? The mind reels)* was made, I knew it was a harbinger for bad things.

    Exhibit 1 – Madonna.
    Exhibit 2 – Billy Joel
    Exhibit 3 – The Bee Gees (yes folks, the Bee Gees are in the Hall, Iggy Pop isn’t.)

    None of these travesties would have happened if the Hall were in Detroit.

    *If I sound bitter, it’s only because I am.
    For god’s sakef fuckin’ Cleveland. the mistake by the lake..

  27. JsubD,

    Of course, even Link Wray isn’t even an inductee.

    He only introduced a couple of innovations in the Rock-n-Roll…like, um, the power chord and distortion and guitar feedback…

    And one of the best rock songs ever.

  28. I used to hate Billy Joel with a vengeance, and it was solely for the line “…and then there is Davy/who is still in the navy” from Piano Man. I dismissed the man’s entire catalogue just because of that one lazily written, obvious rhyme.

  29. Iggy Pop should take pride that he’s not in the Rock & Roll hall fame considering who is.

  30. Travis,

    He should, but given that he just performed at Madonna’s induction is one of the most profoundly disturbing things I have seen in a long time.

  31. (I continue)

    Given that performance, I am not sure he doesn’t feel like he wants to be part of the crowd.

  32. Yeah, if the stooges get inducted to the rock n roll hall of fame, only 2 of them can show up, and they have to throw feces at each other and the attendees.

    And David Bowie.

  33. J sub – being from detroit, you understand!

  34. Fuck. I take it back. I guess Iggy Pop grew up a little bit.

  35. We have rare occurance on Hit & Run this weekend. Agreement. Ray Davies is a genius.*

    * I expect this post will bring out the shameless, brainless Philistines.

  36. Hell, they can’t even figure out a band to put in that will fill out that alphabetical list.

    Who could fit in that empty slot…who?

    Thinking hard.

  37. JsubD,

    The Philistines were a pretty decent band from Albuquerque back in the day.

  38. Yeah, if the stooges get inducted to the rock n roll hall of fame, only 2 of them can show up, and they have to throw feces at each other and the attendees.

    And David Bowie.

    They have to throw feces at David Bowie, or they have to throw David Bowie at the attendees?

  39. Throw David Bowie’s feces at the attendees?

  40. David Bowie’s Feces (aka -Let’s Dance).

  41. Are we talking about The Stooges or G.G. Allin here?

  42. The least 1969 song of 1969?

    And now The Stooge sold out just like every rocker who said they’d never sell out.

    Iggy, shilling for cruise lines…..

    Course, the target audience is more likely to be replacing a hip joint than going to a hip joint.

  43. For god’s sake fuckin’ Cleveland. the mistake by the lake..

    ….the heart of rock n roll is still beatin’ in Cleveland…

  44. You spelled my name wrong, you imposter!

  45. Never was much for David Blowie or Iggy, a couple of the more obvious songs, but that’s about all.

  46. TWC,

    I defy you to find an instance of Iggy Pop saying he would never sell out.

    It is, imho, very consistent with his version of the rock-star to do things entirely for the money.

  47. And the fame.

  48. Iggy Pop should take pride that he’s not in the Rock & Roll hall fame considering who is.

    Bet he’s proud of this

    Rock on Iggy, you counter culture underground rebel!

  49. TWC – I’m not an Iggy fan, but the fact that his song about heroin is playing over footage of happy families on a cruise amuses me.

  50. Iggy may not have been inducted to the RR Hall of Fame but he was there…..singing for Madonna.

  51. Baked, I kind of like Lust For Life, and I see the advertising strategy.

    I actually don’t care if Iggy sold out –I’m looking at you NM– just amusing to watch all of the counterculture heroes, cuz, in the end, they’ll take the money.

    John Lennon might have imagined no possessions, but he was taking the Bentley to the recording studio.

    It’s that old adage, Money Talks, Bullshit Walks.

  52. TWC,

    I am with you.

    I just think people lump all counter-culture heroes into the same bag.

    I do wish bands that did a great record or 10 Xnumber of years ago would just be proud of that accomplishment and move on.

    Nothing worse than the reunion tour/album…


  53. This has nothing to do with the article itself but I found it ironic that when I was reading it that Firefox prevented a pop up about Firefox from opening.

  54. Nothing worse than the reunion retirement fund tour/album…

    Fixed your typo.

  55. Great album, love almost every song, except Phenomenal Cat.

    But you see, Phenomenal Cat is the test of whether you are a true Kinks fan.

  56. For the record, the most un-1968 song of 1968 was I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight by Bob Dylan.

  57. For the record, the most un-1968 song of 1968 was I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight by Bob Dylan.

    It achieved this distinction by being released in 1967.

  58. It achieved this distinction by being released in 1967.

    Further proof of Dylan’s uncanny ability to be ahead of his time.

  59. Further proof of Dylan’s uncanny ability to be ahead of his time.

    What explains his ability to outlive his usefulness?

  60. The Kinks are one of my all time favorite bands (next to Family Fodder, Syd Barrett and late-era Talk Talk). Ray Davies is one of the most brilliant pop songwriters of all time (although I think they went on a major decline by the 70s as the drugs took over, just like the Beach Boys, the post-Beatles Beatles, etc.)

    From “Lazy Afternoon” (where the government takes all his money and even his yacht) to “Harry Rag” (in which the government takes all his money, but he’s still content as long as he has enough to get a cigarette) to the aforementioned songs about unions, the Kinks had a very strong libertarian streak in a scene that tends to lean to the socialist Left. (Then again, the Beatles wrote “Taxman” and did a ton of drugs; thus we could probably make the case that they too were libertarians too.)

    And honestly, “Phenomenal Cat” is better than some of the other songs in the middle of “Village Green.” Twee, but still nice. “People Take Pictures of Each Other” (“…just to prove that they really existed”) is my favorite on this album.

    But “Something Else” is the Kinks’ best. “Waterloo Sunset,” “Two Sisters,” “Lazy Old Sun,” “End Of The Season” and “David Watts” are some of the best pop songs ever.

  61. Wasn’t “Lola,” the first song that got non-libertarians, thinking about freedom of choice?

  62. For the record, the most un-1968 song of 1968 was I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight by Bob Dylan.

    Because it was country? Weren’t quite a few rock acts dabbling in country music by 1968? Maybe I’m wrong — that may have come a couple of years later.

    Looking through a list of the top 100 hits of 1968, one that stands out is Johnny Nash’s “Hold Me Tight”. A hit song with a reggae beat in 1968.

  63. Wasn’t “Lola,” the first song that got non-libertarians, thinking about freedom of choice?

    I don’t know about that. Maybe the first hit song of the Sixties that had a gay theme. Although, did it really make any more of a pro-gay statement than, say, Uncle Milty appearing in drag. And did your average rock fan even listen to the words?

    In the context of the album it appeared on, it was one episode in the story of a young man being seduced by becoming a rock ‘n’ roll star.

  64. Because it was country? Weren’t quite a few rock acts dabbling in country music by 1968? Maybe I’m wrong — that may have come a couple of years later.

    Yep. The Byrds – Sweetheart of the Rodeo, 1968. And actually before that in 1967, one from an ex-Byrd, Gene Clark and the Gosdin Brothers.

  65. Re the Rock ‘n’ Roll Mausoleum: leave it to Cleveland to pick a dead idiom that ran out of practitioners two decades ago and build a tax-funded exhibit in their honor. It’s hilarious that no one thought of the obvious: what happens when we run out?

  66. Interesting artie. Wonder how he feels about 2A since he got shot.

  67. what happens when we run out?

    Nonsense. There are so many glaring omissions:
    Joy Division/New Order
    Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
    A Flock of Seagulls
    Echo and the Bunnymen
    Depeche Mode
    The Smiths/Morrissey
    Kate Bush
    Smashing Pumpkins
    Desmond Dekker
    The Roots
    Roxy Music
    Tom Waits

  68. Say Anything
    The Pixies
    Modest Mouse
    The Flaming Lips
    The Bad Brains
    the Wu-Tang Clan
    Public Enemy
    Neil Diamond


  69. Barry White
    Scott Walker
    Vigan Derderian
    Cheap Trick
    Rob Zombie
    Danny Elfman
    Tina Turner
    Dolores O’Riordan

    …OK I guess I’m done
    U2 never should’ve been inducted before Echo and the Bunnymen, FWIW

  70. Wait!

    Pet Shop Boys
    Lupe Fiasco
    Zapp and Roger
    Iron Maiden
    Steve Miller Band

    Oh no, I think I could continue indefinitely

  71. and let’s not forget

    Warren Zevon
    Nine Inch Nails
    Jane’s Addiction/Perry Farrell
    Donna Summer
    Diamond Head
    Gary Numan/Tubeway Army
    Def Leppard

  72. Jonathon Hohensee:
    for some reason Lawrence Welk, Stan Keaton, and Jim Nabors managed to stay somewhat relevant throughout the radical times and well beyond.

    I know that was an awfully early quote to be responding to this far down the thread, but Jim Nabors? Relevant? Come on, man!

  73. I just can’t believe he never made an album called “Jim Nabors’ Neighborhood”.

  74. “Jim Nabors’ Extremely Relevant Neighborhood.”

    “Not Your Daddy’s Gomer Anymore.”

    “Nabors EXTREME!”

    This last one features several songs that will eventually make their way into Mountain Dew commercials.

  75. Art-P.O.G.,

    It’s called the Rock ‘N’ Roll hall of fame. Not the “pop music” or “disco” or “country” hall of fame. Thus my statement that this waste of space has obsolescence built into it.
    Who’s next — Spike Jones?

  76. Not the “pop music” or “disco”

    Heh. Hence Madonna 😉

  77. The most un-1968 song of 1968 was “Those Were the Days” by Mary Hopkin. Unlike the Kinks selection, TWTD was delivered with a straight face. And no drums*. And it wouldn’t go away. It bent 1968 to its will. It might have even inspired the dreaded maxi skirt and granny dress. Not sure.

    *Maybe a high hat in the chorus.

  78. “Rock ‘n’ Roll” covered about 15 years. As a pop-music idiom it had about the same historical range as Swing, and only slightly longer than Ragtime. Sure, people keep writing for it, and there are nostalgic revivals, but as a living, innovative art form, the coffin lid closed 30 years ago.

  79. I always think of “Rock n’ Roll” as an umbrella term. New Wave, Prog, Alternative, Industrial, Grunge, Shoegaze, et al. all fit under the umbrella. And doggone it, if Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5 are in the hall, you have to put Wu-Tang, Outkast, et. al in as well.
    But then, rock n’ roll becomes too nebulous a term. And if not ‘classical’, ‘jazz’, ‘pop’ or ‘country’, it’s automatically rock n’ roll.

  80. “Jim Nabors’ Extremely Relevant Neighborhood.”

    “Not Your Daddy’s Gomer Anymore.”

    “Nabors EXTREME!”

    This last one features several songs that will eventually make their way into Mountain Dew commercials.
    Don’t forget his ground-breaking gangsta album “I’m Gonna Fuck Up Ya Bitch” album he produced back in 1992.

  81. I didn’t even know who Stan Kenton was until I Googled him. But then again, I’m young.

  82. How come every genre of music apparently has died at the very least 10 years before I ever had got a chance to ever listen to it? Does the fact that the exposure of a musical style to an audience that is not a small group of borderline autistic snobs suddenly means that the genre is over?

    I remember when Emo was starting to become mainstream around 2000-2001, I read this one website claiming that the Emo trend was officially over in 1996 and none of the musicians recorded anything, so tough shit to all of us “normal” people who wanted to listen to the style.

  83. so tough shit to all of us “normal” people who wanted to listen to true emo.
    Although really, I’d chalk that as being a win for us normal people.

  84. I’m not going to say it’s because music critics are snobs…just kidding, it’s because music critics are snobs.

  85. Art-POG,

    I wrote a song about that for you.

    “Perfume of A Critic’s Burning Flesh” – you can find it on my album with Naked City: Grand Guignol.

  86. Perfume of a Critic’s Burning Flesh

  87. No shit…is that the real John Zorn?

  88. Art POG,

    You still left a blank in that alphabetical list.

  89. As if.

  90. According to this, it seems as if performers actually pay to be in the Rock and Roll hall of Fame, like at the Walk in Hollywood;

  91. You still left a blank in that alphabetical list.

    I know. I have the a weak memory. But who?

  92. Supertramp
    Manfred Mann
    The Moody Blues
    Van Morrison

  93. How did John Mellencamp get in before Roxy Music, Joy Division/New Order, Kraftwerk, Barry White or Iron Maiden? [throws up in mouth]

  94. Sigur Ros
    Dropkick Murphys
    Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
    Trevor Horn
    Dinosaur, Jr.
    Black Flag
    Bad Religion
    Bloc Party
    Boyz II Men
    George Thorogood and the Destroyers

  95. I always think of “Rock n’ Roll” as an umbrella term

    That’s why Tiger Woods will soon be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
    He hits balls with a stick. Close enough, eh?

  96. Sun Ra
    Kool Keith
    Soft Machine
    Scarface/Geto Boys
    Cypress Hill
    Fear Factory
    Massive Attack
    Tears for Fears
    R. Kelly
    Eurythmics/Annie Lennox

    That’s why Tiger Woods will soon be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
    He hits balls with a stick. Close enough, eh?

    So you think 20+ Century Music Hall of Fame would be a better name? Because you’re right, nobody’s done ‘rock and roll’ since Elvis.

  97. Lists are pointless.
    The end.

  98. Lists are pointless

    Tell that to Martin Luther.

  99. Art-POG,

    There is still one letter missing.

    Think. Think.

    (hint, from LA, one male, one female singer)

  100. Tell that to Martin Luther.

    Really now, wouldn’t Martin Luther have done a whole lot better if he’d just boiled all his grievances down into a catchy protest slogan. Oh, and maybe invented the t-shirt.

  101. I give up.

  102. Well, I did forget to mention My Bloody Valentine, Dire Straits, Phil Collins, the Jesus and Mary Chain and the Cocteau Twins but I don’t think you’re talking about any of them.

  103. Art-POG,

    Every letter of the alphabet is represented at the R&R Hall of fame except for the one between

    W and Y.

    That letter also happens to be the name of an incredibly influential band from LA.


  104. Art-POG,

    Of course, given your list’s apparently very low bar for entry, you could have included

    XTC, X Ray Spex…

  105. Of course.

  106. But the real Rock Hall’s bar is lower than mine. Mellencamp [blearghhhh]. You can’t even deny that Roxy Music, Joy Division/New Order,Kraftwerk, Echo and the Bunnymen, Portishead and Massive Attack deserve to be in there.

  107. Art-POG,

    I would be advocate for Joy Division & Kraftwerk…

    I wouldn’t be fine with Portishead and Massive Attack.

    Echo & the Bunnymen, not so much…

  108. The Cars, Ultravox, etc. etc. The Hall of Fame and Rolling Stone ignore New Wave. FOR SHAME!

  109. That should read.

    I would be fine with Portishead and Massive Attack…


    I wouldn’t be upset about Portishead and Massive Attack.

  110. Neu Mejican…

    I’d compare Echo and the Bunnymen to U2, if U2 were good. Portishead and Massive Attack…well, I’ll just say the song “Teardrop” alone should get Massive Attack in the Hall of Fame.

  111. Let me try that all again.

    In like Flynn

    Joy Division

    No contest

    Massive Attack
    (as long as Tricky gets in on his own)

    I would oppose
    Echo & the Bunnymen
    Roxy Music

  112. OK, that makes more sense, NM.

    Now listen to Echo and the Bunnymen’s “The Cutter” and the 2nd half of the “Ocean Rain” album. And listen to Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s “Architecture & Morality” album. One of the ten finest albums I’ve ever heard.

  113. I don’t know how the hell you oppose Roxy Music. Have you heard the “Country Life” album? Or “In Every Dream Home A Heartache”? Or even their first album. Bryan Ferry is pure genius, I’m sorry.

  114. Art-POG,

    Roxy Music has some good songs, but hardly rank among the greats of their day (since you’ve offered albums for comparison…compare their best with Here Come the Warm Jets).

    Echo and the Bunnymen are fine, but they didn’t really define their style/their time. They are a good exemplar, but were not innovators.

    And just to give you some perspective.
    I heard all of those albums when they were new.

  115. A band that had huge influence that will never make it.

    Le Tout Puissant Orchestre Poly Rythmo De Cotonou

    (50 albums, hundreds of singles from 1967 til just recently)

    Easily as important as the more likely future inductee..

    Fela Kuti

  116. Le Tout Puissant Orchestre Poly Rythmo De Cotonou

  117. Yeah, Eno’s great and Fela Kuti will end up in the Hall. My biggest problem is due to my age I have a limited perspective on music. Of the bands that I grew up listening to there are only a few I could say were truly great. But I’m gonna have to listen to some post-Roxy Eno now.
    BTW, you’re not really into post-punk/synth-pop? And I see that you’re holding every artist to a high standard. Commendable.
    But Madonna and Mellencamp are already in the hall [barfs].

  118. you’re not really into post-punk/synth-pop?

    Actually, a big fan of the good stuff.
    We just have different taste.

    Check out early Cabaret Voltaire, Coil, or for a more pop example… Severed Heads.

  119. Love the Le Tout … clip. Love the “Severed Heads” too.

  120. Severed Heads website has some videos…

    Start with the early stuff…

  121. The Kings of Benin is the name of a recent compilation of Poly Rythmo…worth tracking down.

  122. I’m curious what you thought about Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s “Dazzle Ships” album.

  123. Er, and what do you think of Laurie Anderson and Kate Bush?

  124. OMD always bored me, to be honest.

    My roommate loved their stuff, but I just couldn’t get into it.

    There was so much good music to choose from in 83-84, I didn’t feel like I was missing out by ignoring OMD.

  125. Kate Bush has 3 great albums (The Dreaming is the best, Hounds of Love, and the newest one).

    Laurie Anderson was important, but dated poorly.

    Some of her stuff holds up though.

    Oh Superman was truly strange at the time.

    She has an excellent sense of humor.

  126. Speaking of humor…

    Off to watch Futurama.

  127. There was so much good music to choose from in 83-84

    I was born in (late) 1983 and am convinced that is where my soft spot for synths comes from. Oddly enough, what I explicitly remember (no doubt from the radio) is Jennifer Warnes and Billy Ocean.

  128. Heh. Enjoy your “Futurama”. Seems like I watch all my shows on DVD/internet since all I got is AFN.

  129. OMD’s “Dazzle Ships” is totally worth checking out. In my opinion, it’s in the top 5 albums of the 80s, one of the most underrated of all time and matches bands like Kraftwerk at their best quality. For a great music video, check out “Telegraph.”

    Several who DEFINITELY need to be in the RnRHOF: Captain Beefheart, Joe Meek, Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, Can, The Zombies, King Crimson, Devo, Joy Division/New Order, Afrika Bambaataa, Link Wray, The Shangri-La’s, The Monkees (sure, they were prefabbed, but they’re damn important), The Stooges, Giorgio Moroder, The Modern Lovers, The Residents, Robert Wyatt/Soft Machine, Wire, The Sugar Hill Gang, Roxy Music, etc.

    They should withdraw the Eagles, John Mellencamp, the Bee Gees and McCartney’s solo career and start down a list of real innovators.

  130. Art-P.O.G., Many of your acts aren’t qualified because they weren’t formed > 25 years ago.

    Add Sun Ra, Scott Walker and Tom Waits to my list, however.

  131. Art-P.O.G., Many of your acts aren’t qualified because they weren’t formed > 25 years ago

    Right. I didn’t know that. Well, my original idea before I got carried away was to try to demonstrate that, despite “some guy”‘s claim, the Hall could probably keep inducting people indefinitely.

  132. But “Something Else” is the Kinks’ best. “Waterloo Sunset,” “Two Sisters,” “Lazy Old Sun,” “End Of The Season” and “David Watts” are some of the best pop songs ever.

    QFT, as the kids like to say. “Waterloo Sunset” is widely and rightly recognized as one of the greatest pop songs ever written. I got chills when we visited Waterloo Station.

    Great article, Jesse. I will put the book on my list. (The good list, not The List.)

  133. FWIW,

    Sun Ra kicks ass.
    But if he is inducted that would indicate that Jazz falls under the umbrella of Rock-n-Roll. Not sure I see that as valid.

    Was Sun Ra more rock than: Herbie Handcock? Jaco? Al Dimeola? Chick Corea? Charles Mingus?

    (A better case can be made for including Miles Davis, given Bitches Brew etc…both for his influence on rock musicians, the rock band instrumentation, and the active blurring of the jazz-rock distinctions)

  134. John McLaughlin could be correctly admitted both with Miles Davis’ band and with his Mahavishnu Orchestra.

    Love Sun Ra, but don’t see a real RnR connection.

    Anyway, the HoF is a joke for, among many other reasons, its American bias. Yes, yes, it is in the USA, but clearly RnR is an international phenomenon and American rock has fed upon what was created in other countries, most pointedly the UK.
    IOW, the HoF is unworthy of discussion until the Jam is slated to be inducted and Paul Weller tells them to piss off.

  135. International Rock scenes that need to be considered

    The entire continents of Africa & Europe

    There are excellent examples from almost every country in the world, actually, but those listed above had/have vibrant rock scenes.

  136. Sun Ra is cool, but yeah, he’s Jazz, not RnR. I mean, Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis also both did crossoverish albums, but Head Hunters and Bitches Brew are still Jazz, not rock. Sun Ra’s gotta be the same way.

  137. Favorite Kinks tune:

    Ape Man

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